With everything else going electronic lately, it should come as little surprise that we’d eventually end up with a digital pen and paper.
Livescribe claims that its digital smartpen “turns your words into action,” a bold claim for what seems at first like a novelty gadget. We were skeptical of how useful a paper notepad and digital pen could ever be, but it turns out that the Livescribe 3 Smartpen is so much better than what we first expected.
The device is extremely easy to set up, simply install and launch the Livescribe+ companion app, switch on Bluetooth on your compatible device, and the pen should automatically connect. Then, you’re ready to go.
The only disappointing oversight we can see so far is the lack of support for an Android handset or tablet. Currently, the Livescribe+ app is only available for devices running iOS7.
First impressions are that this really is brilliant. Write anything in the paper notepad provided, and a digital copy instantly appears in the companion app. We had great fun aimlessly making notes to see them appear on our iPad, but actually there is some seriously useful stuff present here. You’re automatically creating a digital backup of your work without even being on your tablet.
What really stands out about this accessory is the app. The software has a clean interface, is extremely quick and also has a really handy transcription feature. We tried a number of different handwriting styles and each and every time the companion app successfully transcribed their handwriting in the notepad into a typed digital version that could be copied, pasted and edited in another document.
In addition to this, the Livescribe notepad has a number of icons while prompt the app to do different things. You can favourite, flag, or tag specific pages by touching them in the notebook with the pen. This allows for easy sorting of your notes later on in the app.
You can also prompt your tablet to start recording audio using the pen and paper – quite handy if you’re recording an interview, but also want to make notes. All of this is powered by Bluetooth – no wires, and certainly no fuss.
All in all, we see the Smartpen being really useful for certain people – journalists, for example. There are of course a number of other Bluetooth pen alternatives, and at £129.99 from the Livescribe online store, it’s certainly not the cheapest pen you’ll ever buy. But for the right person it’ll be immensely useful – and it really is very clever.